It had to come to this, right?
With their win against the Washington Wizards Thursday night, the Indiana Pacers secured a rematch with the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
While the Pacers have been a train wreck for the last few months, they did enough to squeak out a seven-game series against the Atlanta Hawks and take down an upstart Washington Wizards team.
If you are a Heat fan, you would be lying if you said you weren’t worried.
Sure, the Pacers look like a mess now. They hardly beat the Hawks and downright couldn’t score at times against the Wizards (not to mention they gave up 31 points to Marcin Gortat).
But how is that any different than last season when they hardly got through the New York Knicks in the conference semi finals, when they came short of scoring 80 points twice in the same series?
The only difference now is the attention and the expectations.
The Pacers looked unbeatable for the first 30 games of the season, and a rematch of Heat-Pacers look ed like a sure thing in January with Indiana being the favorite to come out of the East.
Then shit hit the fan in a well-documented feces-palooza, except no one ever figured out who dealt it (thought West certainly smelt it).
It isn’t as if Miami capitalized, though. The Heat showed no regard for home court advantage and went into the playoffs as a No. 2.
Miami rolled through the Charlotte Bobcats and dumped the Brooklyn Nets in five games. The Pacers struggled and now the Heat feel like the favorites even without games 1 and 2 at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Looking at how the Heat plan to play the Pacers, Greg Oden won’t likely be a factor. Udonis Haslem, who was effective against Roy Hibbert at the end of the regular season, had nearly the entire Nets series to rest.
Mario Chalmers was mismatched against the length of Brooklyn’s backcourt but should bounce back this series too. Shane Battier has always been an important defender against David West and Chris Andersen’s backdoor cuts along the baseline have been one of Miami’s go-to plays against Indiana.
You can make the argument that neither of these teams are as good as they were this time last season, but that really doesn’t matter, does it? What matters is that we are here again for one of the best rivalries in the NBA.
You smell that? The playoffs are here.